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I read a diary defending Religion against Atheism, which ironically attacked Polytheism. No one really defends Polytheism, except in theory. Because atheists, who do most of the debating against Christians, don't really have a stake in it. But Polytheism is part of my culture, and my ancestors sacrificed their own blood to protect it. This is why, I think I have an interesting perspective on this whole debate. I am sometimes extremely religious, and sometimes extremely atheistic. Let me tell you what I mean.

I am a Hindu, raised by conservative Hindu parents, and living as a minority in America. My parents have sown in me a sense of national pride for my culture and history. It's not meant as a sign of superiority over anyone, just a matter of protectiveness and self-preservation, something conservative Christians can relate to. So, that understanding gives me great leverage in debate.

In debate, I am religious, sometimes virulently so. When a conservative Christian thinks he or she is superior to me because of my religion, I point out that as a Hindu, I am not any more immoral than you are. I don't lie any more than you do. I have just as many friends as most Americans do. So how dare they attack you religion, when you hate it that atheists attack yours? That defensiveness you have when an atheist attacks you, is the same defensiveness I feel when you attack me.

I also use Hinduism as a defense against those conservatives who want religion in public schools. The Constitution gave me the freedom to practice my religion. Why the hell should I pay a single penny of my tax dollars so that you can teach YOUR religion? If you don't want secularism in school, fine! But I want to spend my tax dollars the way I see fit, so I want to teach Hinduism as the true religion in schools, and if you want to teach that as well, we have a deal, let's bring religion into the schools! If you don't agree we have an impasse, and we can settle for secularism in public schools.

It's a good argument because Christians hate atheists. They feel that atheists impose their lack of belief on the Christian by forcing a lack of belief in public schools, so they get defensive. But my argument shows an impasse. I want to teach my religion, and you want to teach yours. Let's just teach neither using tax payer money and call it a day. This argument has humbled quite a few conservatives.

But I'm also virulently atheistic when I clash with my father. He is anti-gay. And he is anti-gay on moral, and religious grounds. Furthermore, my religion treated women inferiorly for a long time. We also treated untouchables poorly. While, my father is very progressive in these two criteria, I still use them as an argument against religion and Hinduism.

And there is the reason why I am both religious and atheistic depending on the circumstance. When someone with an absurd point of view (conservative christianity) is attacking my absurd point of view (conservative Hinduism) I protect my ideas, because those ideas are attached to a long history and culture. But if a better idea is replacing my absurd idea (like science and secularism) I support that. Because history and culture has no value, when our lives aren't improving. I will readily sacrifice those, when something better is replacing it. My father doesn't like that...

But at the same time, I have no problems with the religious when they don't try to impose their ideas on others. When a doctor has to see sick kids die, and she finds that believing in God allows her to get up in the morning to keep going. Go ahead. You do that.

But don't tell my my religion is inferior. Because then, you don't have the right to say that atheists are attacking you and that you are a victim.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is precisely the point - good work! (18+ / 0-)
    I want to teach my religion, and you want to teach yours. Let's just teach neither using tax payer money and call it a day. It has humbled quite a few conservatives.

    We all understand that freedom isn't free. What Romney and Ryan don't understand is that neither is opportunity. We have to invest in it.
    Julian Castro, DNC 4 Sept 2012

    by pixxer on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:58:55 AM PST

  •  I find Hinduism to be... (6+ / 0-) of the more beautiful religions in terms of it's beliefs. Sure, it has it's fair share of dark areas, but so do all religions i'm aware of, with the possible exception of Buddhism.

    I'm catholic, and find myself doing exactly as you do.I cannot defend my faith's attitudes to homosexuality and other social issues, but find great comfort and strength in it in other areas.

    Bravo. T&R for solidarity!

    I'd rather let a thousand guilty men go free than chase after them.

    by Freelance Escapologist on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:01:17 AM PST

  •  Thanks for your diary. (9+ / 0-)

    Anyone who has "humbled quite a few conservatives" gets a tip from me.

    BTW, what specifically in Hinduism gives your dad justification for being anti-gay, but progressive on issues of women and caste?

    Any significant cut to the social safety net ends my support of the Democratic party.

    by MrJayTee on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:04:08 AM PST

    •  thank you (4+ / 0-)

      about my father, his views on homosexuality is the result of  culture. We don't have a specific, ultimate book, not even the Gita. Our beliefs are an amalgamation of many stories. There is nothing specific for his views, just an overall sense of our culture.

      •  Is it possible that colonialism plays a role then? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The British injected their legal system into whichever cultures they intruded. Many, though not all, Native American cultures accepted and/or venerated those with same-sex attractions and/or those who were non-gender-conforming, until the British, either directly or through the intermediation of mainstream American culture, injected intolerance of sexual minorities. The same may be said in other areas where one-time acceptance of sexual minorities was replaced by lack of tolerance, persecution and prosecution, as well as massive revisions to the local previous history.

        It is my understanding that a good portion of the colonial British legal code still exists in present-day India. Could it not be that what is viewed as a built-in cultural animus against homosexuality is just one more relic of British rule? Or is there additional complexity at work?

  •  Very nice rebuttal diary! eom (5+ / 0-)

    "Hate speech is a form of vandalism. It defaces the environment, and like a broken window, if left untended, signals to other hoodlums that the coast is clear to do more damage." -- Gregory Rodriguez

    by Naniboujou on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:12:31 AM PST

  •  Excellent Diary and Thanks! (8+ / 0-)

    After getting my dander up in an other diary over religion, this one cleanse my palatte!  

    "Life is short, our work lasts longer" Rose Wilder Lane

    by HarpLady on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:14:25 AM PST

  •  Song of Un-Belief (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, gsenski

    Zeus, cloud-gatherer
    gray-eyed Athena
    many-talented Apollo
    and Aphrodite from the sea
        licks of hap luck
        the ruck of brine wrecks
        and my tack in time’s wrinkle
    better than the War God of Sinai
    or the Preacher of Peace
    the gods I choose not to believe in
        well-meaning, intemperate Zeus
        Athena who may or may not smile
        Apollo of the dawn
    and salt-scented, golden Aphrodite.

    A while ago I heard a discussion by skeptics arguing what sort of god they did NOT believe in. The polytheist non-believers seemed to have the most plausible position!

  •  I was just reading a piece... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ontheleftcoast, kyril

    over at HuffPo by a Hindu who claims that Hinduism is a monotheistic religion.  I have heard non Hindus make that claim as well.  I'd be interested in your take on that.

    •  our gods have avatars, and different forms (6+ / 0-)

      For example, the God vishnu is also Krishna and Ram. Parvati is Durga and Kali. These are called "roop" or forms. Some people like to divide their roops and others like to combine it.

      The Pandit spoke of Krishna as the ultimate creator, and in fact he does show this form to Arjuna in the Gita. But he is a Krishna Bhakti. I am a Venkateshwarswami Bhakti, and others believe in Shiva as the ultimate form.

      So there are variations of thought. But we all get along. In fact, I know that pandit who wrote the article. When I went to Columbia, I used to eat at his vegetarian cooking sessions. He is really cool.

  •  Thanks for this. (13+ / 0-)

    I didn't post in the other diary.  It just didn't seem very welcoming.  My wife and I are both atheists.  The only time that we ever feel the needs to mention this to people is when our actions are mistakenly attributed to following the directives of a religious system.  That it, we do gently challenge the notion, common in the south, that one needs to be religious in order to have a value system.  We certainly don't look down on those who are religious and we recognize that the joke could very well be on us--Maybe it is we who are wrong.

    To put it another way, President Jimmy Carter believes that he promotes peace because he is led to do so by a God who loves peace.  I believe that President Jimmy Carter promotes peace simply because he is a good man.  The difference between those two beliefs, to me, is very trivial compared to the action of actually promoting peace.

    Rooting for Democrats!!!

    by SquirmyRooter on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:29:24 AM PST

  •  I am also a polytheist too. (5+ / 0-)

    I am an animist.  I get a lot of slack by Christians for it.  they all seem to think it is devil worship. Of course if you "Are not serving the one true god, you are by definition serving the devil". Then I get it from those Atheists that think anyone with any kind of spiritual or religious belief is stupid.  Plus mine being a 'made up' religion/spirituality  adds another layer of crap to take.

    I did not see the other diary.  Now I wish I could.

    That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

    by stevie avebury on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:52:57 AM PST

  •  OK, I admit, I was expecting another name (7+ / 0-)

    calling session. That seems to be the bulk of "Religion v. Atheism" diaries. It's a shame. For a country that has an outward declaration of being "a melting pot" a welcoming invitation to all the unspoken implication is "you will be assimilated, resistence is futile" in other words, "become like the dominant culture or else". I've often confronted religious "fanboyz" with the paradox of other religions being as valid as theirs but rarely get even a glimmer of recognition from them about it. Maybe if I was actually religious it might've had more impact. But my biggest peeve in any discussion on atheism is when a religious person tells me "what I believe". I don't "believe" in anything, I don't accept anything "on faith". I question, I accept based on current available evidence what the universe is known to be. The clever "Oh, you just believe in nothing! That's a belief!" or the even more insulting "You believe in science!" bullshit shows they have such a biased point of view they're likely to never understand my world. About the only thing I believe in is that the Seahawks will choke in a playoff game. Nah, that's not quite right, I have a theory that the Seahawks will choke, all data indicates that outcome is likely, I can observe the outcome and take note of the data and see if it confirms my theory or causes me to develop a new one.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:08:22 AM PST

    •  yeah, I just wanted to provide a different (4+ / 0-)

      perspective, not name call. I only like to write diaries if I have something to add to the discussion.

      Anyway, religious people do that to put you on their level. When you use belief in a negative connotation, they become defensive, and begin to project: oh yeah, atheism is a belief too!

      It makes them think they are on equal footing.

      Incidentally, I like to debate conservatives to convince them. So I like to start on equal footing. For me, when I debate them as an atheist, I make them defensive, but if I debate them as a Hindu. I help them understand.

    •  I suspect that most people, one way or another (0+ / 0-)

      either believe or accept as being true many concepts which are actually subject to debate. There's only so many hours in the day, days in the week, and so on, and we tend to prioritize what we focus on. Of course many of those unquestioned or lightly-questioned assumptions have little or nothing to do with religious questions. It would be paralyzing to need to completely comprehend every single facet of one's existence prior to actually engaging in useful conduct. I've never met anyone who had the energy to actually go there and still accomplish anything substantive.

  •  Thanks, I'm a polytheist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, coolelegans

    Just in a different way.

    Love is a being, mind is a being, will is a being. This planet is a being. Existence itself is a being. I suppose this borrows a lot from the Greeks and I've often wondered how much the Greeks borrowed from the ancient Hindus? It's easy for us in the West to confuse Hindu, Greek & Roman statues and paintings of deities as if they were persons rather than representations of something else entirely.

    Modern fundamentalist Christians are, in my opinion, Jesus' lost flock. Jesus was all about love, yet these modern American Xtians are so attracted to hatred.

    "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

    by Crider on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:25:39 AM PST

    •  that's a really interesting way of looking at it (0+ / 0-)

      I never thought of a state of thought being a form of God. Well actually, indians have "shakti" which is the manifestation of the strength, anger, and honor, of a woman.

      It's pretty cool.

  •  Hey ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No one really defends Polytheism, except in theory.
    I'm a monotheist and I defend polytheism in practice.
  •  Nice diary. What do you think of the Krishnas? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Back in the day, I worked at a storefront counseling center in the NYC East Village (6th Street?? -- it's a long time ago) that was just a couple of doors away from the Krishnas' NYC headquarters.  I used to love to watch them go by our windows in their saffron robes in the middle of the drabness of the NYC winter and hear the tinkling of their cymbals.  If memory serves, they also had a restaurant where they served food, which, true to cliche, kept you feeling full for only a short time.  I was reading a lot of Gandhi at the time and thought of asking the Krishnas what they thought of him but never got around to it.  (Busy time -- height of the anti-Vietnam-war movement).  But throughout many admittedly superficial interactions, they seemed generally to be quite gentle, joyful people.  (I can't say that's been as generally true of the upper caste Hindus I've met.). The same seems to be true of the couple of people I've met recently who are former Krishnas, but I don't know them well enough yet to ask, "Well, what the hell was THAT all about?"

    So I'd be interested in knowing what the more conventional Hindu community thinks of the Krishnas if you'd care to comment on it.  

    •  Krishnas are respected (0+ / 0-)

      but their outreach is more towards westerners. I don't know of any hare krishnas in india. It could be a cultural thing. Krishna is heavily worshiped Gujurat, where many of the Pandits for the movement are from, and you probably know that a lot of immigrants to America are Gujurati, so they have a lot of influence here. Im from Andhra, and while Krishna is worshipped there, he is not a main God.

      But I like them. I went to Columbia where a bunch of them would regularly come from east village to cook vegetarian food, and I loved talking to them. Their behavior is essentially like any Brahmin's. Except they believe in Krishna as their main God. But it doesn't matter really. We both have the same respect for things like Atman, and Nature.

      Krishna teaches us to control our emotions. Don't be too happy and don't be too sad. We must rein our emotions and our senses as a charioteer reins in his horses.

  •  With a few exceptions (0+ / 0-)

    You generally don't see polytheists engaging in anti-atheist rhetoric.

  •  Religion v. Atheism (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    armd, Chi, coolelegans, KathleenM1

    I've always liked the comment by Richard Dawkins:  "We are all atheists.  I just include one more god than most people."  (Paraphrased).

  •  May I question one aspect of your diary? (0+ / 0-)

    Your diary is  entitled Religion vs Atheism, but the 'wrongs' of religion that you list really just belong to one type of Christianity....
    I do not know of any Jews, Muslims, Episcopalians, United Church of Christ, Quakers, Unitarians.. none of these, which are all members of a religion, are trying to force their religion into the public school system ... and many of them, along with several other Christian denominations, would fight tooth and nail the introduction of religion to public schools.   Yes, there are some that want to, but believe me, most of us that are not followers of Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee, and the right wing crowd agree with you...

    As an Episcopalian, I am very aware that my ability to practice my faith is very much linked to your ability to practice or not practice whatever you believe or do not believe... and I do not want to see any religion's rules about living legislated into our laws, unless we all (Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers and people that don't know where they fit in) agree ... our laws must be religiously neutral ... they haven't been, and there are many things that favor Christianity, and a particular type of Christianity, over non-believers and those not in the particular type of Christianity.  
    So please do not lump all Christians into the mob ... contrary to all the songs and scripture injunctions, most of us don't like the other flavors of Christianity ... and please don't equate all religions with the likes of Robertson and Huckabee ...
    other than that, I am on your side when it comes to keeping religion out of the public schools, and I want to see religious institutions taxed like other businesses ... and I want to see Christmas made just another day of the work week.. those that want off to celebrate religiously can do what Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and others do ...take a vacation day ...
    and no melting pot!  I want us to be a salad bowl or smorgasbord  with each one of us contributing our own unique flavor to the occasion

    Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

    by moonbatlulu on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:56:02 PM PST

  •  In the humble opinion of one atheist, (0+ / 0-)

    I have no issues whatsoever with how a person chooses to make sense of this amazing and bizarre universe we all find ourselves in, nor do I imagine that the nights are made any less dark were I to come along and piss on someone's candle.  Follow whatever path you feel drawn to with dignity and honor and bloody well allow everyone else the same courtesy, that's my motto.  Or it would be, if I started having a motto.

    Ah, but when one faith attempts to export its vision by hijacking national policy or the law of the land, then we have issues.  Not until, though.  I have enough to do without going out of my way to pick fights with people who have not attacked me, and most believers have not attacked me.

    In spite of my own lack of belief, I find religion and mythology fascinating, and will happily attend your midnight mass, meditate in your Zen monastery, or dance around your Beltane fire if you care to invite me along.  Just because I don't adopt your belief system doesn't mean I can't get into the spirit of things now and again.  :-)

    A postscript to the diarist: I enjoyed my travels in India and am grateful for the friends I made there.  Additionally, the metaphysical profundity in Hinduism is truly mind boggling even if one approaches it purely as metaphor.  I wish I could be present for one of these debates of yours; I think you might have better luck than I generally do, coming from where you're coming from.  :-)

    "Forecast for tomorrow? A few sprinkles of genius with a chance of doom!" -Stewie Griffin

    by quillsinister on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:23:00 PM PST

  •  There's no reason to favor monotheism (0+ / 0-)

    over polytheism as being a more likely truth behind the universe.

  •  The govt didn't send in 30 atheists to Iraq (0+ / 0-)

    to convince the locals to not believe in Allah, but that's exactly what happened in Iraq with evangelical Christians.

    On mobile, couldn't find that other diary... but yeah, she's a Christian victim, bred by O'Reilly etc. They invented the "attack on Christianity" falsehood, people just become informed and aware at some point. We're breaking free of thousands of years of programmed religious control, maybe an "attack" is necessary, but there isn't one.

    Wanna be a good Christian? "Go behind closed doors and pray", "religion is between a man and his god only", like it states in the Bible, like Obama stated on his first National Prayer Day when asked how he will be honoring the holiday. He was labeled as attacking Christianity while quoting the Bible. How is that?

    "Atheism" is nothing but a manufactured term, my religion is "well, nobody knows for certain, but these myths sure as hell aren't true. We'll find out I guess."

    Seems this is how most people think. If they don't follow along and go through the traditional route of society they are classified and shunned. This is all changing as we become more aware as a society.

    That other diary seemed to be a desired thought product of our system and media. Nobody attacks religion. Logic is retaliating. Christianity and religion has been on a sweeping global takeover and attack on the mind for thousands of years. You don't govern by religion. Period.

    Now go sit down and read your Bible, keep it to yourself, we'll do the same. Most people do this naturally, all else, all this fighting... is manufactured, for money and control.

    Religion seems to be on a cyclical scale in our lives. People get smart, they give up their programmed beliefs and just live. Then the new group comes in... Seems like that in all of society. We catch on, then the next generation gets suckered into the labels and used as they were intended, repeat.

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